Top 10 Safety Features to Look for in Used Cars

September 11th, 2020 by

A grey 2019 Jeep Cherokee is driving on a dark foggy road near Lexington, KY.

Safety is an ever-present concern when choosing a new or used car. No one wants to drive a death trap or let family members get behind the wheel of a potentially dangerous vehicle. The desire to buy a safe vehicle might lead you to wonder, what are the most important safety features in a used car?

Car owners already know about seat belts, which are mandated by federal law and required for passengers to use in most states. Airbags likewise are well-known safety devices already included in passenger vehicles. The number of airbags and their configuration can make a difference in safety, as does the ability to disable some airbags to prevent potential injury to small children and other vulnerable passengers.

When it comes to current and recent production cars, a wide range of electronic safety features make them even safer. Here is a look at the ten most important safety features in a used car.

1 – Automatic Emergency Braking

A rear-end collision can be very dangerous and cause significant injuries or worse. They also can cause a great deal of property damage, resulting in costly repairs and totaled vehicles. Automatic emergency braking detects when objects are in the way. The brake system then automatically slows the vehicle and brings it to a complete stop when necessary. It is especially useful when combined with ABS, which is already included in virtually all production vehicles.

2 – Blind Spot Detection

Turning the car and changing lanes requires attentive drivers to check the mirrors and blind spots to ensure no vehicles or anything else might be in the way. That means human error becomes a huge factor in whether or not a simple change in direction leads to an accident. Blindspot detection automatically tells drivers when vehicles are in the blind spot.

A diagram shows a silver 2019 Ram 1500 from above using blind spot detection in a driveway.

3 – Electronic Stability Control

Rollover accidents are especially deadly and cause a lot of property damage. Higher vehicles like SUVs and pickup trucks are especially prone to rollover accidents, but virtually any passenger vehicle could wind up in a rollover accident as well. Electronic stability control helps to reduce the potential for rollover accidents by automatically applying the brakes in specific patterns to bring the vehicle safely back under control. That helps to stop tall vehicles like SUVs or pickups from rolling over and makes all vehicles more stable and controlled under varying driving conditions.

4 – Lane Departure Warning/Lane-Keeping Assistance

You have to keep it between the lines to drive your car safely. Lane departure warning helps to prevent accidental lane drift by sounding a warning. Lane-keeping technology goes even further by automatically correcting accidental lane drift. That is especially helpful when a driver might reach for an item or turn the steering wheel slightly while looking to the right or left.

5 – Adaptive Cruise Control

Driving on the freeways is a breeze when the roadway is clear and you can use cruise control to maintain a constant pace. But when traffic builds up, then cruise control can become a problem if you have your foot off the brake or gas pedal and another car gets in the way. Adaptive cruise control solves this by automatically slowing your car to match speeds with the vehicle in front of you. Some more advanced systems can even bring you to a full stop when required.

6 – Rear-View Camera

If we had eyes in the back of our heads, then nothing could sneak up on us. With a rear-view camera, you have eyes in the back of your car that will warn you when cars, people, or objects are in the way while backing up. This makes it far easier to safely back into or out of tight areas – especially when the system includes multiple camera angles for a perfect view of your surroundings.

7 – Parking Assist

Fender-benders often happen when parking vehicles or pulling out from a parking spot. Parking assist can monitor the side, front, or rear of your car to let you know when all is clear. It is like having three sets of eyes closely watching your vehicle to make sure you do not back into another vehicle or other object and cause damage. It also helps to protect pedestrians who might wander into a blind spot while you are parking the car.

8 – Voice Control

Distracted driving is one of the primary causes of deadly accidents on U.S. roadways. Many drivers become distracted when they take their eyes off the road to adjust the stereo or heater and air conditioning systems. Just a few seconds of inattention can be enough to cause a devastating accident. Voice control greatly reduces the need to take your eyes off the road while enabling you to keep two hands on the wheel.

9 – Adaptive Headlights

Adaptive headlights automatically adjust as you turn to illuminate where you are going. The ability for the headlights to shift the beam to the most useful area for the drive makes it a lot easier to avoid hidden obstacles while negotiating turns. Potholes, patches of ice, and other potential dangers are much easier to spot and avoid. Adaptive headlights also are extremely beneficial in areas where car-deer accidents occur at relatively high rates.

A white 2019 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, popular among used cars, is driving on a dirt road just after sunset.

10 – Tire Pressure Monitoring

A bad tire can lead to a bad accident if it goes unchecked. Tire pressure monitoring systems are relatively common and warn drivers when one or more tires are running on low air. The systems give accurate readings for all four tires and will flash a warning when one begins losing air. That can help a driver know if a foreign object or other problem is causing air loss and fix it as soon as possible.

Additional Benefits of Special Safety Features

The safety features listed above and others have proven results in reducing accident rates. Some systems are especially effective, like lane departure warnings. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says vehicles equipped with such safety features on average suffered 11 percent fewer head-on, sideswipe, and single-car accidents. Injuries from those accidents were reduced by 26 percent among 5,000 accidents studied, according to the IIHS.

Even more telling, the IIHS says there are about 6 million car accidents each year. If all passenger vehicles on the road in 2015 had lane-departure warning technology, the IIHS says about 55,000 fewer injuries would have occurred during those accidents. Unfortunately, a relatively small number of vehicles come equipped with such technology, although the number is growing each year. It is unlikely a used car buyer will find one for sale that has all ten special safety features listed above, but several models likely will include several of them. That could make your used car purchase a much better deal by providing safer transportation.

About the only downside of the special safety equipment is the additional cost to repair them if you do wind up in an accident or a mechanical failure occurs. But the higher price to repair damage to cars with safety features can be offset by lower auto insurance costs. When they prevent an accident from happening, you generally do not need to worry about the cost to repair any damaged sensors, cameras, radar equipment, or other components that comprise the advanced safety features.

To get a better idea of how these valuable safety features function, feel free to drop by our Lexington area dealership. Here at Dan Cummins, you will find a wide variety of used vehicles sporting the above safety features, and a knowledgable team that can demonstrate how they work. It is time to embrace technology and make your driving experience safer than ever before.

Posted in Used Cars